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NEWS ..... JUNE 2011

You all remember Geoff Mack's great song, 'I've Been Everywhere', made famous by Lucky Starr - well that is just how I feel about 2011 so far!

Since Tamworth Festival I have spent 2 weeks in Port Fairy, a week in New Zealand, a week on Norfolk Island, a few days in Brisbane, a few more on The Gold Coast, a long weekend at Perisher Ski Resort and a weekend in the Upper Hunter Valley - not to mention a weekend In Wagga Wagga and two trips back to Tamworth!

Of course it was all WORK ... but I guess I'm lucky because I LOVE my work! I never think about life as being work OR pleasure, to me it's all the same thing.

New Zealand was wonderful. The Bay of Plenty is a beautiful area and the weather was postcard perfect. We had three packed houses at Opotiki for the annual Charity Concerts, which this year raised much needed funds for rebuilding Christchurch after the earthquake.

The other two featured artists were New Zealand's Mandy Pickering who actually lost her home in the Christchurch quake and American country singer Joni Harms, a great entertainer who has a marvellous repertoire of old western songs and original material. It turned out that Joni was good friends with some of my old cowboy entertainer mates from USA and was signed to the old Warner Western label with Waddie Mitchell and Don Edwards, who I toured with in the 1990s - it's a small world.

:Jim & Joni.JPG
Jim and Joni Harms in Opotiki

I met some truly friendly people but probably the BEST thing I got in New Zealand was Merilyn Nooroa's recipe for Crock Pot Pudding. You need a 6 kilo crock pot .... I'll put up the recipe once I have tried it myself a few times. Thanks Merilyn!

The hospitality of New Zealanders is legendary, and it is all TRUE! I came home 3 kilos heavier and made some great friends like keyboard play John Houghton and retired truckie and farmer Allen Robb, who gave me a great insider's eye view tour of the local district. I owe a HUGE 'thank you' to Mike Butterworth for persisting in his efforts to get me to New Zealand - thanks Mate, it was terrific.

The best news of all is that I'm going back to Opotiki in 2012 to do it again!

Back in Australia I was on the road for a few BACK TO THE TIVOLI shows with ex-Delltone Wayne Cornell and another old mate in piano player Barry Heidenreich. Shows in Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast were full of fun and friendship. Better still, Wayne's shows are always sold out in big venues like Kedron Wavell RSL and Twin Towns.

A last minute booking to appear at Denman for their poetry evening in May as part of the food and wine festival was an unexpected pleasure. It was great to catch up with Peter Mace and Tim McLoughlin  - Peter is a very funny performer and fine poet and Tim is a wonderful performer of the more traditional poetry.

I hadn't seen Tim for years and it was good to catch up. Peter and Anita Mace are old friends and have helped me out on many occasions at Tamworth and Port Fairy festivals. Anita is a wizard on the merchandise table and I am lucky to have two such talented friends. It was good to meet so many new friends at Denman like artist Peter Fenton. I really should thank Kaye Martin for making it all possible. There are many people out there like Kaye, working away to make small towns great places.

A trip to the Snowy for the 3rd Perisher Snowy Mountains of Music Festival proved to be a beauty on the June long weekend. Lots of old mates and early snow falls made it a memorable time. There we were in a winter wonderland enjoying great folk music and lots of Aussie Verse just weeks after returning from Norfolk Island where I swam in the crystal clear waters of Emily Bay and lazed in the sun!

Norfolk Island has its own special separate report.

I have almost finished my 17th book. It's a collection of history and stories about the trucking industry and it's been great talking to some very interesting people and collecting their stories... fascinating stuff.

I always enjoy learning new aspects of Aussie history and meeting different types of people when I put together books like this one.

Coming up are Gympie Muster, the Cruisin' Country week aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas and, of course, the CMAA Academy of Country Music in July - hope to see you somewhere along the track!

Jim

Check out Stone the Crows Festival - held at Wagga Wagga - Every Easter

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